this post originally appeared on the Azubu blog here.
The landscape of eSports is evolving.
What began four decades ago—packed shoulder to shoulder in front of arcade cabinets, or gathered together at LAN parties—has turned into a booming and rapidly expanding community, and subsequent industry.
Many millions watch online on sites just like ours. Fans come from all over the world, and there are new tournaments and competitions cropping up all the time. There are superstar teams and unbelievable crowds at major events.
At the center of this expansion is a dedicated core community, that has been championing eSports from the very beginning. In many ways, this core community is the heart and soul of eSports and the passion of that group will help shape where eSports is going in the coming years, as it continues to bloom.
But one of the greatest challenges facing the eSports community and everyone involved with it, including us, is taking a really close look at how and why, the community is growing as well as making sense of the constantly increasing diversity inside of eSports.
I learned to do audience research as a graduate student at MIT, studying videogame fans. One of the most important lessons I learned was making sure to listen to what people say, observe what they do, and to let that information guide analysis. The goal is to move beyond gross generalization—an audience should be understood as a collection of people, with shared passions and with differences.
It’s time to move past generalizing statements about eSports that reduce, and oversimplify the vast and diverse community. It’s time to move beyond the kind of statements that hold the eSports community back, by not taking the time or care to really listen to what people in the community say and watch what they do. There’s a growing body of great research that is doing some of this work already, coming from universities and companies alike, and we plan to join and contribute.
And this is the fundamental reason why, at Azubu, we conduct user research. We strive to be a community first organization, and we want to do so in earnest. This is not about token gestures, or platitudes. It’s about really understanding the community, in all its diversity, taking a close look at how it is growing, and making sure we are an organization that helps to foster the greatness in eSports for everyone.
So please, take a moment to fill out our brief survey here. This is just a first step for us, and there will be more to come. Doing research right is a process with many steps. We’re looking forward to the ride!